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Thursday, 23 March 1961

Mr DALY (Grayndler) .- Mr. Speaker,the matter under discussion, as well as the bill actually before us, is legislation introduced on the 15th November with a number of other measures by the Treasurer (Mr. Holt), which he stated were necessary to restore economic stability in the country. Among those measures were the proposals in regard to life insurance companies, changes relating to deductibility of interest for income tax purposes, and the increase to 40 per cent, of the sales tax on cars, and to 25 per cent, on certain other items.

To-night, we debate another remarkable change in policy by the Government of the day. Clearly, the announcement which the Treasurer should make at the conclusion of each speech he makes in this Parliament is, "That is my policy, and if you do not like it I will change it". I say that because undoubtedly the policy of the Government on sales tax and other matters, particularly financial matters, has changed as consistently as the weather has changed in recent times. The apologetic speech made by the Treasurer in introducing this measure, on which he was not consulted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the effect of which is to repeal the previous measure and the tragic speeches made by Australian Country Party members, indicate that the Government is not Sin,ere in its policies and knows no. what it is doing.

There is an honorable mer/ber in the Parliament known as the honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) a very likeable person, and a man who, I thought for a time, had considerable ability. But after hearing his last couple of speeches on the sales tax legislation I am reluctantly and somewhat sadly forced to the conclusion that he will support anything and that he is a very bad judge of what is good, and what is bad policy. To-day he stated, " \ support the Government's measure ". He was referring to this measure to repeal the sales tax legislation. At page 3348 of " Hansard ", of 27th November, 1960, the honorable member for Mcpherson is reported as having said when speaking to the legislation now being repealed -

As the representative of a rural electorate, I am very glad to have the opportunity of supporting this bill.

Hiputs it in one door and is delighted to shove it out the other. He says that it gave him great pleasure to support the previous legislation. In the- course of his speech on the 29th November, 1960, supporting the introduction of a measure which it is now proved should never have been introduced, he said -

I congratulate the Treasurer on this very statesmanlike attempt to do what is really required to bring balance to our economy.

Mr Duthie - Who said that?

Mr DALY - The honorable member for Mcpherson. The Prime Minister did not think that the Treasurer was a statesman, because he did not consult the Treasurer before he arranged for the legislation to be repealed.

Let us pass down the line a bit from the honorable member for McPherson and examine the almost change-daily attitude of the Government on policy matters. The honorable member for McPherson went on to say.

In reply to a question by a member of the Opposition to-day the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) mentioned various areas where there was unemployment, or where it was anticipated, and he gave an undertaking that the men concerned would be re-employed. As he indicated in his answer to the question, he had no doubt about the outcome. I believe that we cannot go much further as we were going with this boom economy.

To-day, 80,000 people are out of work. The number sacked from the motor industry, from which the honorable member for McPherson said that no men would be displaced, is 8,000. What has the Treasurer or the Minister for Labour and National Service done to re-employ these people who have been displaced? Senator Wood, who by no means is the darling of members of the Government, and Senator Wright opposed the legislation increasing the sales tax when it was introduced in the Senate because they knew, as the Labour Party knew, that it should never have been introduced because it was vicious, unjust and opposed to all the principles on which this Government was elected as a tax reduction administration. Senator Wood said in another place-

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